I still seem to be hooked on the topic of risk and reward in MMOs. This article continues along that vein, but instead of the harsh, cold realities of item loss, we are going to think in terms of the spirit of the Olympic Games and talk about the sport of Competitive Dungeoneering.
Betting – In this system, some instances are only accessible to teams willing to pay the ante. Depending on the instance, this ante can be in the form of gold, experience, or interesting items. A low level dungeon might require 50 coins, or a green weapon to enter. A high level instance might require 1000s of coins and an epic piece of equipment. Any items bet cannot be used until the team has completed their mission.
Very simply, if your team completes the mission, they get their bet back plus an appropriate reward. However, if they fail the instance, they lose the bet and their stuff is lost. The definition of failure would vary each instance. A party wipe could mean failure, or the mission might require that a certain player or NPC never die, or the mission might be timed.
One variation is to allow players to up their ante, thus increasing their reward if they win… and possibly the power of the enemies in the instance. This is a pretty direct way to climb the risk vs. reward curve.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is contrived, and requires a lot of meta-gaming on the part of the players… but MMO players ought to be used to meta-gaming, right?
Item World?– One interesting variation steals from console RPGs like the Disgaea series. Instead of betting gold or experience, players put up items to enter dungeons. Groups that succeed in conquering the instance find their items returned to them, but with significant upgrades in their stats and powers.
Competitive Dungeoneering — The next step in this idea requires that we devise a system by which we can score a team’s performance in our dungeon. Missions could be timed, or we could score based on monsters killed, or treasure found. Deaths would likely count against a team’s score and a party wipe could mean the team is disqualified.
Similar to the betting system, teams would enter the dungeon only after putting up a decent amount of cash. Once the team completes the run, their score is calculated and recorded on a leader board. At the end of the week, the best teams split a hefty portion of the bets placed by all the groups that week.
Variant Dungeons– This system lends itself to tons of variations. Instances could be created with the competitive dungeoneering concept in mind. You could have dungeons where teams faced wave after wave of monsters with little time to rest in between. The team is scored based on how long they can last. Some instances could consist of long hallways filled with platforms and obstacles and teams could engage in a timed race to the finish… with monsters thrown in to slow them down.